Take a walk in the woods
Published/Last edited or updated: 8th March, 2018
The highest peak in the immediate area of the Dieng Plateau, Gunung Prau is a relatively easy and straightforward climb which can be completed in just a few hours—and weather permitting, the views are apparently fabulous.
According to GunungBagging’s detailed write-up on climbing Gunung Prau there are at least eight access trails to the peak, so we went with the most central trail, the one which starts near Losmen Bu Djono, reached the peak and then, rather than back tracking, continued on, returning via a different trail to the village of Patakbanteng, from where we then jumped on a bus for the return trip to Dieng village. From start to finish the walk took around four hours.
Just to the south of Losmen Bu Djono the main road, Jalan Raya Dieng, runs to the east in the direction of Wonosobo—follow this for perhaps fifty metres and you’ll see a trail running off to your left—this is the trailhead and it will take you north, past a small school to a base camp for Gunung Prau. We didn’t realise that the peak was actually closed to climbing the day we climbed, so the basecamp was unattended, but normally this would be open.
From the basecamp the climb is both straightforward and relatively easy. There will be some huffing and puffing involved, but nothing too serious. The climb has three pos markers on the way up and takes you through some beautiful pine forest along the way. The trail was generally in very good condition and clear to follow, at least to the top. We were unfortunately very unlucky with the weather and for the vast majority of the climb we were totally surrounded by mist with very limited visibility.
At the summit the views are apparently tremendous, but save a thirty second break in the mist, when we enjoyed the briefest of views into the valley below, we saw nothing! Note at the summit is can be bitingly cold, especially when the wind is blowing a gale and it starts to rain—take our word for it.
From the summit, we continued east, through an area called Bukit Teletubbies thanks to the vaguely Teletubbies style grassy hills (we could barely see them thanks to the mist), then we continued on, eventually reaching the primary campsite (which was deserted as the peak was officially closed to camping).
The trail from the summit to the campground is in grassland and can be a bit difficult to follow as there are minor trails running off to the left and right and no signposting. This would be less of an issue in season, as there can be hundreds of people climbing every day when the peak is open.
Once at the campsite, which also apparently enjoys terrific views (we could see nothing!), you veer to the right down the trail just by the ranger station and this steep trail will take you all the way down to Patakbanteng—the trail is considerably steeper than the one we took on the way up, with stars built in in places, but they are not in the best condition—take care and watch your footing. As with the ascent, there are three pos on the way down.
The trail finishes at a couple of warungs which (when open) you could get a drink at and enjoy the tremendous views across the patchwork quilt of potato farms around here. From the warungs, follow the sealed road down to the main road, cross to the far side of the road and wave down a passing bus to get back to Dieng.
When we climbed Gunung Prau it took two hours to reach the summit and another two hours to come back down to reach the main road at Patakbanteng. Pack enough water and dress sensibly—be sure to pack a waterproof jacket as the weather is very unpredictable.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.